Gay Scoutmaster: Boy Scouts Ban Seattle Troop Over Its Leader

Tuesday, 22 Apr 2014 07:02 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A gay scoutmaster has led the Boy Scouts of America to rescind a charter given to a Seattle-based church after it refused to remove the troop leader because of his sexuality.

Geoff McGrath, a 49-year-old software engineer and Eagle Scout, had his membership revoked last month following an interview with NBC News in which he came out as being openly gay. In support of their scout leader, the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church refused to remove McGrath, leading the BSA to tell the church that their troop meetings could no longer be hosted under the Boy Scout's banner, The Associated Press reported.

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Despite the Boy Scouts' decision to accept gay youth for the first time this year, the organization continues to enforce a ban on openly gay adults from being in leadership positions. Consequently, McGrath's decision to discuss his sexuality with NBC News left the BSA with "no choice" but to revoke his registration, the national youth organization told the software engineer in a letter in March.

The BSA added that McGrath had also "deliberately injected his sexuality" into the scouting program when he made statements to the media and the organization about his sexual orientation, the AP noted.

Though he is no longer allowed to operate under the Boy Scouts name, McGrath told the AP on Monday that he will continue to operate as a troop leader through the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church.

"Just because the BSA doesn't want to be involved with this church and these kids, we will still have a robust youth program for our kids," McGrath said. "It's one of the best things I do. One of the things that really makes my week is spending time with these kids."

On a personal level, however, McGrath acknowledged that his removal from the Boy Scouts "was a blow."

"Nobody likes to be rejected from the company of people that you have valued," McGrath added. "That said, it's two weeks later. I've had to move on and accept that BSA, both national and regional, is not ready to be properly fully inclusive for all youth and adult leadership."

In response to the church's decision to stand by their scout leader, Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith released a statement to the AP on Monday that read, "we are saddened by this development, but remain committed to providing all youth with the best possible Scouting experience where the Scouting program is the main focus."

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